The late Louis Simpson

spent a visiting year in my department some time around 1980.

Architecturally and janitorially, my campus is pretty awful. The paradigm of the awfulness is the elevator in my department’s building, which has broken down about once every other week, year in and year out, for every one of the 35 years I’ve ridden it.

But once, just once, the elevator was illumined from within. The source of the brilliance was Mr. Simpson, who walked in, leaned himself against the rear bulkhead, and declared for all within to hear,

“The trouble with Gary Snyder is that one day he decided he was wise.”